The 2009-2010 season was a tale of two Demetri McCamey’s.
There was the All-Big Ten version that Indiana fans remember all too well after he sliced through three Hoosier defenders on his way to a teardrop buzzer-beater on January 30 in Champaign. He also led the Illini back from a 15-point deficit in Bloomington with 19 points, nine assists and just one turnover in a 66-60 win. Impressive.
And then there was the other McCamey.
The one that showed little respect for his coach, Bruce Weber, in this sideline incident during an ugly 72-57 home loss to Wisconsin on March 7. It was a stunning display of immaturity and poor decision making from one of the Big Ten’s finest players.
And it couldn’t have come at a worse time for Illinois as that loss ended any chance of an at-large NCAA Tournament berth. The Illini, a team many believed had the talent to dance in March, went on to the N.I.T.
So as the Illinois floor general returns after testing the NBA Draft waters, the question on everyone’s mind is this: Which version will show up for his senior season?
I’ll go with the All-Big Ten version for two reasons:
1. It’s the last stand for McCamey. Weber needs him to be more consistent and the leader if the Illini are to return to the top 20 like many are predicting. Sure, senior stalwarts Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale also return to help provide leadership, but let’s face it, as McCamey goes, so goes Illinois. That was evident last season when he shot just 37 percent down the stretch and Illinois lost 7 of 11. Coincidence? Not at all.
2. If McCamey wants a shot at guaranteed NBA money, he’ll need to display better decision making and do his best to avoid another sideline incident with Weber. The last thing an NBA franchise wants with a fringe first-rounder is questions about attitude and coachability. A summer to regroup is likely just what McCamey needed to realize it’s now or never to lead Illinois back to the NCAA Tournament and secure his future at the next level.
Filed to: Demetri McCamey